This is where we left off:
…. Like any decision you make, you have to do your due diligence in making sure all the variables for that decision are at your disposal.
We’ll talk about that with my next post.
This is that “next post.” To title it differently,
Monday or Friday? Choose Wisely Part II
Tell you what. We’re having this conversation because there is a difficult conversation to be had about an employee’s less than desirable behavior. Values drive behavior. In scanning all our variables to make the Monday or Friday decision, let’s look at this from the standpoint of value alignment.
Choosing wisely between Monday and Friday [for difficult conversations] is quite easy for you if you have been diligent in your gifting of the Daily Five Minutes (D5M).
Ultimately, when you are managing with aloha, with the D5M in your practice you would have nurtured a circle of comfort between you and your employee for conversations at virtually all levels of complexity and emotional difficulty.
You will know them quite well: In Managing with Aloha, the D5M appears in the chapter on ‘Ike loa because it means “to know well,” and your employees represent a wealth of valuable knowledge for you.
Further, in addition to reaping all the other benefits of the D5M, you would have transcended to this;
If you coached an employee about some part of their performance for just 5 minutes every single week, you’d be giving them the equivalent of a 4 and a half hour annual performance review. And the one you have to officially turn into the HR office at annual review time? You and that employee would be so in sync, and their performance will be so off the charts, it will take you all of 15 minutes tops.
Read more at Everyday Performance Reviews.
So those are two of your tools as a manager: The D5M for relationship building and effective communication, and everyday performance coaching. These are proactive ones which are completely under your control.
However to bring this back to the discussion at hand, if you are choosing between Monday and Friday for a difficult conversation, somehow you’re out of touch or have lost your singular effectiveness, and you may need to call in some help.
This is where your employee’s family, their community, and everything in their not-at-work living circumstances may come in. Essentially, the Monday or Friday decision is this one: Will those circumstances be a positive influence on the best possible outcome of the situation or not? Your third tool in difficult conversations, within the language of managing with aloha, is ‘Ohana, the human circle of aloha surrounding this employee when they most need it.
This is about understanding influence: In the final analysis, your employee has to make their own decision on how they will behave going forward. They have to choose their own next actions. They have to think it through. With the Monday or Friday decision, you are choosing the environment they will be in when they think, and when they decide to act.
When I coach managers in the practice of ‘ohana as a value which drives workplace behavior, I will have them do a simple logging exercise over the course of a month’s time. They choose three different direct reports, and they log
1) their mood,
2) their emotional intelligence factor, and
3) their work effectiveness
a) Monday afternoon and
b) on Thursday afternoons
so they can see what the differences are, for there are indeed differences.
Again, this is the rationale:
The “Monday afternoon” variable is their first day back to work after being out of our circle of aloha, and in that of their family. So in 24/7 work environments, read “Monday” as the day after their two days off.
The “Thursday afternoon” variable counts Tuesday and Wednesday as work days 2 and 3 without the Monday complexity. Therefore, we can think of it as their first day of “in the groove” work after being in the workplace ‘ohana, and our circle of aloha.
It never fails. Managers who do this exercise always gain some aha! moments about the difference in those employees’ work performance on certain days. Second, they gain insight with the workplace or family influence upon the quality of their work, and in regard to their emotional capacity.
The work itself is another variable at your disposal. When you have a difficult conversation with an employee related to performance, what will they be expected to perform on next? What can they be focusing on, to put your how-to-improve coaching toward immediate practice? What project or work assignment can you give them which will engage their talents and make any weaknesses they may have irrelevant?
If you want to save the situation and turn it around, you have to help them deliver a win to you. You must set them up for success, and the quicker the better. Short projects, not long ones, but meaty ones which will have to engage them, not patronizing busy-work. This is the message you want to be giving through your work direction as their boss:
I recognize your strengths and the good in you. I believe in you and your capacity and worth. I don’t believe we had this difficult conversation because you are a bad person, not at all! You just slipped up on your behavior, and that’s an easy fix, an easy decision for you. I’ll do whatever I can to help you arrive at that decision for yourself. I am confident you will see your way through to it as clearly as I do.
Understand the distinction: You are preoccupying them by giving them work-directed clarity. Worthwhile stuff. Stuff that counts. Stuff that translates into a win they can deliver to you, gaining back your faith in them in their eyes. Just keeping their mind off their problems is not enough, especially if it is worthless clutter (i.e. busywork)
Nānā i ke kumu
The fourth variable is the individual. Everything starts and ends with them.
However, everything else we’ve talked about, is with your influence on how they arrive at their own decisions, and this variable is about that too. Are you aware of how they think?
How good are your employees at introspective thought? How often do they practice Nānā i ke kumu and “going to the well” to drink in some nourishment from within themselves? Said another way, how good are they at calling upon their own aloha spirit when they need it?
Managing with aloha is very much about managers coaching people in personal value alignment. Most of the Hawaiian values really speak to personal endeavors, and the concept that all starts within you. We are responsible for our own attitudes, our own choices, our own happiness and our own success. Even when we speak of Lōkahi and Kākou in group behavior, our core assumption is that the group’s effectiveness comes from the choices made by the individuals within it. [More on this is on page 107 in Managing with Aloha.]
One HR way of dealing with the progressive stages of progressive discipline is to have employees write a written statement about any events which led up to the occurrence of the disciplinary situation we are dealing with. Every employee alive realizes this is primarily to cover everyone concerned legally; it’s the cheap version of having a tape recorder available for a jury in a courtroom.
When I haven’t been able to avoid this, and had to defer to this practice in the best judgment of my partner in HR, I’d balance it out with some writing direction of my own: where HR looked backward, I took us forward.
I’d sit with the employee and do a draft with them where our handwriting was blended in collaborative effort versus documentation. We’d come up with a plan for how we were going forward and start the thinking process together. Polishing up the plan was the employee’s homework, and yes, they had to turn it in to me, so we could continue to collaborate. That’s what management is, isn’t it?
However with each subsequent edit, the homework they did in between helped me discover, or know better, how and what they were thinking. It was positively directed.
Knowing that, I could cycle back to using the other variables we talked about here in the most effective way. It’s all connected.
Does all of this take time?
Does all of this demand you spend more time with your people than you probably are?
Do you have to do all this to be a great manager?
Let’s look at the universal nature of these values in the workplace to summarize:
‘Ike loa— Two of your tools as a manager: The D5M for relationship building and effective communication, and everyday performance coaching.
‘Ohana— Your third tool in difficult conversations, within the language of managing with aloha, is ‘Ohana, the human circle of aloha surrounding this employee when they most need it.
Ho‘ohana— The work itself is another variable at your disposal. When you have a difficult conversation with an employee related to performance, what will they be expected to perform on next?
Nānā i ke kumu— The fourth variable is the individual. Are you aware of how they think?
I love management!
Ho‘ohana with us as we manage with aloha.